by John Brian Shannon | July 31, 2016
China is growing and modernizing rapidly, of that there’s no doubt. With an economy second only to the United States, and home to 1.35 billion citizens, it’s the country that created the largest manufacturing sector in recorded history.
Due to globalization, events in China (whether positive or negative) can have profound and worldwide ramifications
Therefore, it makes sense that China is attempting to shore-up it’s marine security in the South China Sea through which $5 trillion worth of goods pass annually.
A good case could be made that China would be remiss if it didn’t take reasonable measures to ensure that all shipping in the region (whether it is en-route to China or not) is safe from at-sea piracy attempts and seaborne terrorist attack
It has been noted by sailors for hundreds of years that complex navigational hazards await those ships that navigate through the busy South China Sea.
The waterway is full of sandbars, shoals, partially submerged islets, and some islets are only visible at low tide, while others lurk only a few feet beneath the surface of the sea — safe enough for 5-person sailboats to pass over, but exceedingly dangerous for container ships to traverse. Running aground and getting stuck half-out of the water on top of the shoal or sandbar is incredibly dangerous.
Once a distress call goes out, pirate ships operating in the region are ‘magnetically attracted’ to those grounded ships. If you think that piracy-at-sea is a big problem with a ship capable of running at full speed and able to quickly change course, you’ll understand what happens to a ship and crew that is stuck on a sandbar for a few days. You don’t want to be that crew, ever. Just one more reason to have a strong anti-piracy component operating in the South China Sea.
Where such islets are located in North American waters, they were long ago deemed navigational hazards and were either destroyed via explosive charges or had lighthouses with foghorns installed on them to constantly warn ships of their location. A few have a runway installed so that patrol aircraft can refuel. Which is exactly what China has been working on in recent months.
Surprising to nobody is that some of China’s neighbours are concerned that the huge and powerful nation not all that far from them could become even more powerful than now, and it could decide to be not as nice to deal with as it has been in recent years.
In such case, those islets could be heavily militarized and used as jumping-off points for an attack on the much smaller South China Sea nations. (At least, that’s the fear)
Which gives more reason for all South China Sea nations to work together to craft a common strategy for China’s security and their own security.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of China to the global economy which depends on it to drive demand for resources and agriculture
Building upon the uber-successful NATO model, an organization of Atlantic Ocean member nations and having conducted millions of operations in the Atlantic ocean since it’s creation on April 4, 1949, is the most logical way for China to gain the additional security it needs — while proving to regional neighbours that it poses no threat to them and is merely working towards a clearly demarcated, safe shipping zone for the South China Sea.
Even the leaders of the world’s most powerful nation the United States of America, know that nothing of lasting significance can be achieved by one country acting alone.
Therefore and in that context, I respectfully urge President Xi Jinping of China to work with all of the nations of the South China Sea in a spirit of mutual trust and goodwill in an effort to jointly address the opportunities of regional maritime security.
Mr. President, please make the South China Sea nations ‘part of the solution instead of part of the problem’
In this way, by taking the lead in the creation of a mutually beneficial organization, not only will maritime security in the region improve, but other upgrades to diplomatic relations around the world will surely follow.